In Kyrgyzstan, there are currently more than 80 factories engaged in recycling secondary materials from plastic, metal, paper, textiles, as well as industrial and organic waste. According to the study "Waste - New Income
", Kyrgyzstan exported plastic secondary raw materials over $44 million to Central Asian countries and Russia in just nine months of 2022.
Although the recycling potential in Kyrgyzstan is substantial, the process has many nuances. For instance, according to Aimeerim Tursalieva, one of the creators of the waste sorting mobile application "Tazar
", plastic recyclers in Kyrgyzstan often assess the appearance of secondary materials visually rather than relying on labeling.
"Recyclers speak in the language of forms. They touch the plastic, identify what looks suitable visually. For example, the denser the plastic or film, the more willingly they accept it. When it's too soft, it becomes harder and more expensive for them to make granules", — explains Tursalieva.
It can be reliably stated that recyclers readily accept PET plastic bottles from beverages — such as cola or water — along with their caps, rigid disposable tableware and containers, and polyethylene bags.
All recycling guidelines also indicate that before submitting secondary materials, it should be cleaned of food residues, washed, and dried. According to Aimeerim Tursalieva, this is necessary to prevent dirty bottles or containers from damaging the equipment - recyclers find it easier to reject secondary materials than to repair the machinery later.
In addition to plastic, Kyrgyzstan also recycles paper and cardboard. However, due to the absence of a separate waste collection system, a significant portion of potential secondary materials ends up in landfills along with other waste. Recyclers do not accept dirty or wet paper and cardboard.
According to Tursalieva, Kyrgyzstan does not collect the necessary volumes of secondary materials from paper and cardboard for recycling. "Only about 30-40% is collected, and the rest is imported from other countries", — says the expert. This affects the ability to produce end products, such as toilet paper.
Metal packaging from products is also collected reluctantly. According to recyclers, items like tin cans weigh little but take up a lot of space. Because of this, they are referred to as "clutter," and before recycling, they accumulate for months to gather the required volumes.